As we start to go back to work, we need to do what we can to optimise employee safety and wellbeing. Although the guidelines have now changed to 1m+ distancing it is still important that employers have the correct measures in place to enable adequate social distancing. The overall aim is to make workplaces ‘COVD-19 secure’ so that they can operate safely. Employers have a legal responsibility to protect staff and others from risk, while enabling them to carry out their jobs effectively. They must start with a risk assessment where they prioritise measures that eliminate or minimise the risk of COVID-19, for their employees and service users.
Keeping workplaces clean
Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should also investigate reducing the number of high-contact surfaces by installing technology like automatic door opening and closures. They should also communicate to staff and visitors how the cleaning regime has been changed to help tackle the threat of coronavirus.
Employers should display more signs reminding staff and others to wash their hands regularly and should ensure that supplies of handwash and hand sanitiser are replenished frequently. Signage can also be used to direct people on a one-way system through the office to prevent them having to pass each other closely.
In workplaces where social distancing measures are not possible employers should re-design them to maintain two metres between people. There are many ways this can be achieved including staggering start times, creating one-way walk-through systems, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.
Consider physical barriers such as ‘sneeze screens’ between desks. This makes sure that you are reducing the number of germs that can be moved from one person’s desk to another.
You can also have partition walls installed to divide up areas to prevent lots of people being in one room at a given time.
You are more likely to require PPE if you are providing direct care to service users, or cleaning premises contaminated by COVID-19. However, there may be other circumstances especially such as when social distancing and other measures are not always possible.
Face covering in some cases, although PPE is not required, your employer may ask you to use, or may provide, ordinary clothing (such as a scarf or bandana) to cover your face especially when you are in confined spaces, such as lifts.
In many open plan offices people are sat very close together and would be unable to work from a social distance. However, by giving staff a rota of when they can come into the office and work from home means that you can have 50% of employees in at one time.
With the employees that are in the office, to make sure that everyone can keep at a social distance throughout the day you can stagger breaks. In reception/break out areas removing seating or moving them to be 2m apart means that employees can still maintain a distance while on their breaks.
We can help you with your social distancing in the office planning and proving physical adaptations to your office. Our mini-refit service means we can work with you to make small changes to the office without a full refit. For example, we can provide ‘sneeze screens’ and partition walls to divide spaces and limit the amount of people in a certain area. We can also provide a strip-out service if you are looking to relocate to smaller premises.